A couple months back, we told you about Luisa Le Blancs Contagious Passion, a critically praised novel written in the form of an extraordinarily long fan letter to The White Stripes. Recently, Luisa and her husband Gilles had the opportunity to check out Jack White’s latest project, The Dead Weather, and were gracious enough to share their thoughts, in the form of review, with Consequence of Sound…
It’s not like Jack White has to prove anything to anyone…
at least in Gilles’ opinion.
Since breaking into the mainstream in 2002 with the landmark White Stripes album White Blood Cells, I dont think any other musician can claim to have accomplished as much as Mr. White has in the last seven or so years.
He has sold out concert tours and headlined festivals around the world with both the Stripes and The Raconteurs, sold albums in the millions and won arms full of awards, all while earning the respect of musical contemporaries both young and old as well as the reverence of fans like myself.
As someone who cant get enough of seeing him perform live, I cant help but be pleased that he seems compelled to constantly assert his rock genius again and again, especially when it happens so often in Toronto!
So imagine the smile that came across my face when I learned that his newest venture, The Dead Weather, announced on the afternoon of Friday, June 12th that they would be playing an intimate club show the very next night at the Horseshoe Tavern as a warm-up to their upcoming tour. It didnt matter that I had already bought tickets a couple of weeks ago to their July 22nd date at the Kool Haus (where I rocked out to The Raconteurs a year ago).
I wasnt going to pass up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with a band destined for greatness in a setting like The Shoe, and boy, did we ever get close!
After spending the first half of the day lining up for wristbands for the privilege of buying a ticket later that night, my wife Luisa and I looked on anxiously as a good hundred people who got their pink bracelets well after us were let into the venue first. Fortunately, a great deal of them chose to return later, drink at the bar or sit at one of the tables in the back, so once inside we hurried to grab a prime chunk of real estate in the front row.
By the time the opening act took to the stage, a great sounding band from Ottawa named Hollerado, I was so close that one good jostle from the back would have sent me flying headfirst into the keyboard set up for Dean Fertita later.
While there was the expected surge of excitement as The Dead Weather emerged from the shadows, all four members dressed primarily in black, the crowd was extremely well behaved, ready to face the full brunt of the approaching rock storm.
I’m not going to pretend like I knew the songs we were assaulted with during their one hour, 13-song set, except for the power packed “Hang You from the Heavens” (which was saved for the encore), as well as “Treat Me Like Your Mother”, the second single from the upcoming album Horehound. It didnt take me long though to start grooving to the thundering, Led Zeppelin-ish blues riffs and dramatic organ accentuations being produced mere inches in front of me by Fertita, backed up by Little Jack Lawrence busting out on bass at the other end of the well weathered stage.
The tight fitting Horseshoe was actually a fitting venue for The Dead Weather to make their Canadian debut, as they struck me as more than a bit of a throwback to the groups that would have performed there throughout the 60s and 70s.
Standouts for me included the opener “60 Feet Tall”, “I Cut Like a Buffalo”, “Forever My Queen”, and the absolutely mesmerizing “Will There Be Enough Water?” which saw White take the lead on guitar like only he can in addition to duetting with sultry, chain-smoking singer Alison Mosshart.
Oh yeah For those of you who may not be aware, Jack plays drums in this new band, looking very comfortable behind the kit to boot. You can tell John Bonham has obviously been a big influence on him; he even paid homage to the late, great Gonzo by eschewing his sticks and drumming with only his fingers at the start of one song. Im sure Im not the only long-time admirer of Whites oftentimes blistering guitar work who found it hard not to leave the Shoe impressed with his mastery of another instrument.
Their demeanour may have been on the frosty side when they first came out, but by the end of the night, The Dead Weather had warmed up to the point where they were visibly enjoying themselves and the Toronto crowds reaction to the new material. Fertita, in particular, was grinning ear-to-ear and even went so far as to high-five me before taking a bow with the rest of the band! The Dead Weather are going to make a lot of noise this year, and not just from his distorted guitars! I for one cannot wait to download the digital copy of Horehound on July 14th!
Luisa stood in front of Gilles and had this perspective:
A new group consisting of a mix of members from other bands shows up a month before their first album is released, and while you may have YouTubed their few performances, it can be difficult to tell what to expect From an ignorant point of view.
Jack Whites in town, you show up, period.
No, they did not turn out to be my favourite all-time band, but they still rocked! It was interesting to see Jack return to his first musical home behind the drums. Of course he plays them with creative and passionate flair. White sang and played his guitar a few times during the set, reminding us that the lightning, thunder, hurricane, and tsunamis are all contained in his finger tips.
Alison Mosshart, the lead singer, surprised me. I sensed that she brings forth her insecurities, her issues, and gets caught up in her lack of maturity and may as well be speaking to her therapist while on stage. People may interpret her actions during her performance as being lost in the music, but I think shes lost in herself. She is talented (and quite attractive), she just needs to stop trying to prove it to her audience and trust herself.
Jack Lawrence seems to draw the line between band and audience like a true bassist, concentrating on his vital role to the production. Hes a pro to the core and so obviously loves rocking out. There were some technical difficulties during the show and he, from my perspective, was able to direct his crew to the problem.
Dean Fertita was exceptionally diverse in his keyboard and guitar abilities while lending some back up vocals as well. I sensed an appreciation of the crowds excitement as he delivered the goods to the hungry audience. And boy, did we eat it up Quite tasty, actually.
To stand in line all day just to be in the presence of a living legend, a master musician is no great feat. Saturday nights performance, however, made me question, What makes Jack White so incomparably amazing? Theres no question that hes talented beyond his living years on any instrument he attacks, and he writes with provoking expertise, but its his stage presence that draws me into the fulfilling world of rock. His energy spills forth from an unpretentious temperament and ultimate channelling of music artistry An aura you cannot fake. He is human with, no doubt, problems, and family and issues like the rest of us, but instead of using those as crutches, it seems to me that he morphs his experiences into magic. The result is a stage energy that flows back and forth as the ebb and flow from the edge of the ocean and his shows end result is nothing short of miraculous.
Check out Luisa and Gilles on their new blog, Harmony Rd. Contagious Passion is currently available for purchase via Lulu.com.